Marco Luciano, SS
DOB: 9/10/2001
ACQUIRED: International Signing, July 2018

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GiantFutures 2023 Ranks: #2 Overall, #1 Shortstop

2022 Performance: Marco Luciano had a very, very difficult season in 2022.  He started off strong, batting .302/.357/.556 in April.  By June 3rd, he was batting .288/.360/.507, having a good season by most accounts.  But that was when he suffered what was reportedly a lower back strain.

He wouldn’t be seen on a field again for exactly two months.

Luciano’s back injury would be the shadow on the season and the rest of the year.  He came back to the Arizona Complex League, where he hit .318/.444/.545 over eight games, before returning to Eugene.  While his second half did feature his first two grand slams of his career, he hit .203 over 17 games in the Northwest League, with two doubles and two home runs, but got weaker as the season reached its end, going 3-for-25 with no extra-base hits over his final seven games.

Luciano’s splits are hard to decipher with only full-season splits, but Luciano was relatively even against different pitchers, doing slightly better against right-handed pitchers (.799 OPS) than left-handed pitchers (.794 OPS).

Defensively, Luciano’s performance at short with errors stayed just about study as ever.  His .929 fielding percentage in 2022 was almost exactly in line with 2021 (.925), and 2019 (.923).

Strengths and Weaknesses: When he’s healthy, Luciano is still a difference-maker in the batter’s box.  While Luciano has swing-and-miss potential, the charge he puts into balls is extreme, with a 106.2 mph exit velocity, some of the best in all of the minors.  He does it despite a swing that is not maximum effort.  Luciano has also shown, when healthy, the ability to swing for contact instead of power when needed.  He still has holes on his hands, when healthy, but in general he’s strong throughout the zone.

The caveat is “when healthy,” of course.  With a back injury that is now reported to be a stress fracture, something that was aggravated in winter baseball in the Dominican, things look rougher.  After his return, Luciano’s plate coverage seemed to shorten, and pitchers successfully attacked him low and away, and he could no longer cover it.

Luciano’s positional future remains in doubt.  To some reports, he has begun to improve at shortstop, getting better with his hands, and he’s always had the arm strength to handle the spot.  Some still doubt his ability to stay at shortstop in the short term or long, however, and the Giants near-signing of shortstop Carlos Correa to a huge deal would’ve likely pushed Luciano off the position.  Luciano has the arm strength to handle third base, but he might not have a future there either with Casey Schmitt in the system.  An outfield move is also possible, but his range would limit him to left field.

2023 Outlook: Health is the biggest thing to watch for.  At this point, it’s not clear Luciano will be ready to begin the season as it starts.  When he does, a return to Eugene is possible, but with a back injury, the Giants seem likely to be conservative with rushing him back.  Richmond is not out of the realm of possibility when he is ready.

Future Profile: Luciano’s stress fracture in his back is a big deal for him and his future.  A healthy Luciano had the look and feel of an All-Star quality shortstop, but the question of how his back will affect him going forward.  Until we see if he can still swing the way he did when he was healthy, it’s hard to say anything for sure.